A Sustainable Future for All Humanity

Posted on 23 July 2013

“A Sustainable Future for Humanity” was the central theme of the seminar organized by Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) yesterday morning (Monday 22 July), on the day of the arrival of Pope Francisco in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Week. The event marked the beginning of the Week, focusing on one of its main themes: the importance of faith-based and religious groups taking responsibility for the conservation of the natural world.

Claudio Maretti, as leader of the Living Amazon Initiative, and representative of the CEO of WWF Brasil, Maria Cecília Wey de Brito, participated on the panel discussion on Sustainability, which was moderated by Professor Fernando Walcacer, coordinator of the course in Environmental Law at the Catholic University of Rio. Claudio Maretti spoke about the openness of the Catholic Church and the Catholic University to come together with other organizations and people who hold common interests, but perhaps have varying perspectives. The environmental specialist presented the importance of the Amazon region as the most bio diverse biome on the planet, with a diverse population whose way of life is based on a close relationship with nature and natural systems. He also highlighted the fundamentally important role of the Amazon for the regulation of the global climate.

Maretti commented: “For the last ten years, the Amazon has suffered the effects of climate change, with increasing frequency of droughts and floods. This directly affects the way of life of indigenous and traditional communities, who rely on rythm of the natural environment in the region to live sustainably with its natural resources. They are also affected by policy decisions that do not take into account their intrinsic relationship with their home environment. The Amazon’s biodiversity is at risk from climate change. The impacts extend beyond the Amazon, to the rest of the world, and for example, causes changes in water flow to big cities, increasing the risk of flooding, negative impacts for the poorest populations, who do not have the capacity to protect themselves against these consequences”

According to Maretti, the function of the Amazon is not only to store carbon, but also to maintain the stability of atmospheric processes, such as the hydrological cycle. For example, deforestation in Pará or in Maranhão can generate water shortages from the Atlantic to the Andes, or can have a direct impact on local biodiversity or negative consequences for Brasil for the Amazon Basin and beyond/ downriver. Beyond this, the central part of Brazil and the most important agricultural and fishing areas depend on the rainfall, the so-called ‘’flying rivers’’ generated by the Amazon.

Important figures from the Catholic Church also participated in the event, such as Padre Josafá Carlos de Siqueira, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), and from government as Corrado Clini, the Director General of the Ministry of Environment of Italy, among others. The opening speech was made by Dom Paulo Cezar Costa, the Vice President of the Local Organizing Committee of World Youth Week. According to Costa, “if we want to create a future for humanity and for all Creation, we need to contemplate nature and have a vision of preservation”

During the event, a statement was released by the Youth Guardians of Creation of World Youth Week, led by a student of social communication from the Catholic University, on behalf of all the young people attending WYD. The content can be accessed here.

Claudio Maretti underlined the need for young people to think together about the future of the Amazon. “The future that we want for everyone depends on an ecologically healthy Amazon that can continue to provide products and ecosystem services. In this way, we can leave a legacy for future generations of the right to decide their own future; for sustainable development”

WWF is at the World Youth Day event participating in discussions about environment and presenting videos on the relationship between faith and conservation of the natural world. The videos can be viewed at the following WYD and WWF link: http://goo.gl/OxRL6E

On the 24th July, WWF will patricipate in the Youth Social Forum at 3pm, Centro de Referência da Juventude at Manguinhos. More information is here: http://goo.gl/NXfpM

More information:
Denise Oliveira, WWF – WWF Living Amazon Initiative (55) 61 - 8175 2695; doliveira@wwf.org.br

Claudio Maretti, Leader of the Living Amazon Initiative
© WWF Brasil
A Sustainable Future for All Humanity
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images